Exotic, German and Starfish: Port Barton’s Islands Part 1

Itaytay Beach is an ideal place for chilling. But wanting to enjoy the best of what nature had to offer at Port Barton, we started our second day on this peaceful fishing village by embarking on a day-long boat trip to the islands and reefs at Port Barton Bay. The itinerary of our first boat tour covered islands with the curious-sounding names of Exotic, German and Starfish.

Exotic Island

First on our list was a group of coral reefs just a few minutes boat ride away from Itaytay Beach: Twin Reef and Fantastic Reef. This was perhaps the best surprise of our Port Barton experience. Our boatmen were unanimous in saying that Twin Reef offers the best snorkeling in Port Barton.

tour boats and snorkelers at Twin Reef, Port Barton Bay
Tour boats at the Twin Reef

Twin Reef has several pristine corals including barrel sponges, table corals and other colorful coral species. Swimming about were plenty of blue and yellow fusiliers, clown fish, trigger fish, parrot fish with colors we have not seen before, besides many other colorful reef fish. A Canadian on our boat said it was the best snorkeling she’s done and she has been to coral reefs in many other countries.

snorkelers at Twin Reef, Port Barton Bay
Our boat mates snorkeling at the Twin Reef

The snorkeling was an exhilarating start to our island tour and then we were off for Exotic Island – our first island stop and eventually our lunch stopover. Exotic Island sounded rather too cliché for us and made us wonder if it really was worth a visit. However, our boatmen thought it was more beautiful than the more popular German Island. True enough, as our motorized outrigger began to approach Exotic Island from its western side, we realized they weren’t exaggerating.

motorized outrigger tour boat at Exotic or Cayoya Island
Tour boats at Exotic Island

With surrounding crystal-clear emerald and aquamarine waters, a fine white sand beach and a coral reef just offshore, Exotic wasn’t a misnomer at all for this island.

the white sand beach at Exotic Island
Exotic Island’s white sand beach
the rocky northern side of Exotic Island
Rocks jutting out from Exotic Island’s northern end

A group of layered rocks jutted out from the northern end of the island, pointing towards another, larger island mass that the locals call Maxima Island. A small channel marked by stunningly clear and shallow turquoise water separated the two. At its deepest this channel was just waist-deep and we wasted no time walking across to Maxima Island on the other side.

view of the channel separating Exotic Island from Maxima or Albaguen Island
It’s possible to cross the channel that separates Exotic Island from Maxima/Albaguen Island in the background during low tide on foot

Looking at Google Maps later we discovered that Exotic is officially Cayoya Island while Maxima is Albaguen Island (apparently misspelled in Google Maps as Albguan Island). Albaguen is the northernmost of the islands in Port Barton Bay and contains several white sand coves and beaches plus the Blue Cove Island Resort. It seems, however, that the tour boats are not allowed to go there.

tour boat at Exotic Island with the rocky islet at the island's northern end in the background

Our next destination after Exotic – Inaladelan Island – used to be (and is still often) called German Island after a German national who used to either own or lease the island. Strikingly clear emerald and turquoise waters surround a white sand beach on the island’s southeastern side, revealing plenty of corals underneath.

Inaladelan Island and the Turtle Spot
Crystal-clear turquoise waters off Inaladelan Island

The corals at Inaladelan also offer excellent snorkeling but something else caught our attention here earlier during the morning. Just across the white sand beach at Inaladelan’s southeastern end is another narrow channel separating it from Marindeg Island (half of the so-called Double Island). At this narrow channel is a spot for viewing sea turtles where earlier during the day, on our way to Exotic Island, we got to snorkel and observe a large green turtle feeding underwater. The area is referred to as Turtle Spot or Turtle Place in boat tours here. (Tip: it’s best to visit this spot in the morning when the chances of spotting the turtles are higher.)

view of Inaladelan or German Island and surrounding waters from the Turtle Spot
View of Inaladelan or German Island from our moored boat at the Turtle Spot
native-style huts and hammocks on the beach at Inaladelan Island Resort
Native-style huts and hammocks on the beach at Inaladelan Island Resort

There’s a resort at Inaladelan but it blends well with the surrounding palms and vegetation. Hammocks underneath leafy palms and native-style beach huts and even a swing provide opportunities for rest and relaxation, something that we and our boat mates eagerly took advantage of after a whole morning of snorkeling and island exploration.

line of palms and huts pointing to the Turtle Spot just off Marindeg/Double Island
A line of palms and huts pointing to the Turtle Spot just off Marindeg/Double Island. We had asked our boatmen if we could add the latter to our island-hopping itinerary but they said it wasn’t allowed by the island’s owners.

Our last island destination for this first day of island-hopping isn’t really an island but a sandbar that happens to be the closest destination to Itaytay Beach in the mainland – reachable via a 15 to 20 minute boat ride from shore. Starfish Island or Sandbar is named after, you guessed it right, starfish. One can find a number of these creatures submerged under shallow water and scattered all over the sandbar.

tour boats at the Starfish Sandbar, Port Barton Bay
At Starfish Sandbar

Our first day of island-hopping was already a revelation but more was to come. As we slept soundly that cool December night we eagerly looked forward to another day of exploring more of the wonders of Port Barton Bay.

our tour boat approaches the white sand beach of Exotic Island with Maxima Island in the background

Tips and information on island-hopping in Port Barton

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